Category: Frequently Asked Questions

Do I really need a lawyer?

The only way to know for sure is to talk to one. Unfortunately each legal problem brings with it a unique set of facts and complications.

Without speaking to a lawyer about your circumstances, it’s impossible to know for sure if retaining a lawyer is the best and most cost-effective way of maintaining your rights. Also, while you may be thinking of representing yourself, known as “pro se” in legalese, you may want to carefully weigh the benefits. Lawyers have access to more than just courtroom experience. We subscribe to electronic services which help us keep up to date on the most cutting edge laws, and we’re familiar with the sometimes complicated rules of procedure and evidence. There’s also a saying in the profession, “the lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.” We wouldn’t appear pro se, and we suggest you don’t either.

How much will it cost me to hire a lawyer?

Lawyers generally have three ways of charging for their services, but it can get a little complicated. Read on.

First, a lawyer will frequently bill at an hourly rate for the time she works. Under this model you will only be charged for the time put into your case. Under this fee-structure, as well as the others, you will be charged for incidental costs like court costs, expert witnesses, and any travel costs.

Second, depending on the nature of your case, a lawyer may base their fee on how much you recover. This is called a “contingency fee” and is often used when the case is complicated, and the size of your recovery hinges on a lawyer’s skill. For instance, this is a frequent billing method in a civil rights case.

Third, you could be billed a flat fee, at the outset of your case. This final method is much rarer, and usually only for very simple cases like a standard ticket or an uncontested divorce, with no children or property.

How long can I expect a lawsuit to last?

A long time.

One of the hardest things about filing a lawsuit is managing your expectations about the speed of the proceedings. If Law and Order can get from crime scene to acquittal in an hour, why can’t you, right?

Unfortunately courts have substantial dockets, and depending on where your case is filed, it could take anywhere from a few weeks for your opponent to decide your right, to a few years for the Supreme Court to decide you’re right!

When should I contact a lawyer?

You should contact a lawyer if you’ve been wrongfully laid off because you’re older, or a woman; if you’re a man who has been wrongfully accused of harassment; if you’ve been arrested; anytime your gut tells you, “This just isn’t right!”

Your problem may not always have a legal solution, but if it does your rights have an expiration date. It’s called a statute of limitations, and it exists in almost every type of case. So if you wait to long, no matter how wrong they were, or how right you are, you may not be able to do anything about it.